By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Eric Porestsky and Jakob Shaw each grew up on opposite coasts, but destiny united them in their freshman year of college in Connecticut, which sparked a partnership that would eventually become indie rock project Pacer.
The duo now based in Los Angeles, fans will get to hear the result of 18 months of hard work writing and recording, as they ditched a computer for a Tuscan Portastudio four-track recorder. Their latest single “Polaroid” has already been described as “melodic and intimate,” almost Radiohead-esque, all in its own folky glory.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with them about their upcoming debut EP ‘The Terror Of Other People’ (which will be out on June 18, 2021) and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Los Angeles to someone who has never been there before?
Jakob Shaw – The best food. Awesome venues. Beautiful hikes and great surf spots. A real mix of sweet, kind people and total doofuses. Too many cars and way too many billboards.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Jakob Shaw – As cheesy as this may sound, what excites me most about our style is that it feels completely authentic to us. We really lean into the imperfections of my voice and I think that’s one of a few factors that gives our music a kind of rawness that I really love. More than anything, we’re trying to write songs that we will love and want to listen to ourselves, which is a daunting, but exciting project.
Music Bugle – What is the most challenging aspect of being a musical duo?
Jakob Shaw – The hardest part of being a duo is also probably the best part of being a duo. You don’t have the luxury of majority rule, so every single decision has to be one that we can both get behind. We’ve had some epic battles over whether an extremely subtle, borderline inaudible, background volume swell should stay in a song. We’ve also had plenty of amazing moments when, after hours of playing through different ideas, we land on something special and everything just clicks. Ultimately, both of us know that we would be nothing without the other person and after more than five years of doing this, every argument eventually becomes a source of laughter.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your debut EP ‘The Terror Of Other People’?
Eric Porestsky – Putting together the EP was an evolving process. We were working with tape for the first time on the Tascam Portastudio and had a hybrid setup where we would record several layers of tape and then bounce the tracks into Pro Tools. As we worked on the EP, we started figuring out how to get the best of both worlds between the limits of tape and digital and came up with a sound that we felt was distinctly its own.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Eric Porestsky – Our band name took forever to come up with. I had a list on my phone of maybe 200 band names that all didn’t work. Eventually, we came up with Pacer, which was fitting given both of our backgrounds as runners, not like the basketball team!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jakob Shaw – We’ve both been lucky that neither our friends or family have lost loved ones due to the pandemic. The social cost of the pandemic has been felt by everyone and in our cases, the loss of live music has been pretty huge. We were trying to make it out to shows a couple of nights a week to listen to local bands and touring bands. That was a big inspiration to keep pushing forward through the long writing and recording process that went into the EP. That being said, the lockdown gave us a lot of time that we may not have had otherwise to just hunker down and focus. Nights we would have spent going to shows were replaced by lots of quiet nights at home writing and revising lyrics and recording alternate versions of the same song.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Jakob Shaw – We’re always a bit all over the place with our listening. There’s usually a Neil Young record somewhere in the rotation. I’ve been going through a heavy folk/americana phase and I’ve had “To Live Is To Fly” by Townes Van Zandt, “New Partner” by Palace Music, “Revelator” by Gillian Welch and “I Shall Be Released” by The Band on repeat for the past six months. I also just discovered – 54 years late – “This Is My Country” by The Impressions, which is just absolutely amazing. I’ve been listening to it while I cook, at least three or four times a week.
Eric Porestsky – I have an always-updating Spotify list that I add to. Recent picks have included Tom Petty, Philip Glass and The Verve.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape?
Jakob Shaw – Depending on the day, it’s either the beach or the Rose Bowl running loop in Pasadena.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for from the rest of 2021?
Eric Porestsky – For COVID to come to an end and for our lives to return to some kind of normal. Also, to play and start work on our next project!
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Jakob Shaw – “Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”